Jesus Christ: My Part in His Downfall

Easter Sunday is not known as Resurrection Day, as I understand it, in any European language. Some American Protestants take a literal approach to Easter (which functions on something of a Pagan palimpsest) and reject the festival, preferring to emphasise the continuing effect of resurrection. The ‘day of resurrection’ is a synonym in the rest of Christendom for the Day of Judgment. In this the fundamentalists and literalists parallel the Islamic perspective, since the followers of the Koran talk of al-Qiyamah as Judgement Day, but not of anything comparable to Easter Sunday. Presumably, though they do not apply it to Jesus, the Muslims do therefore have a concept of a resurrection, just not of that of Christ. That written, I’ve only ever come across Shia who believe in dormition, at most—not actual death and regeneration.

Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, as well as Coptic Tributaries quite rightly focus on the day of Christ’s Resurrection as the centre of the faith beyond history. This raises a number of logical problems. Once the resurrection happens, humanity is saved. It represents a new covenant, to replace those of Adam, Isaac, Noah, Job, and David, inter alia. It seems to amend that between Moses and God as recorded in the second set of commandments brought from the mountaintop. Deal 8.0 if you will. As St Augustine realised, this poses no issue; the new covenant stretches back and forward and everywhere in time. In essence, it eliminates history and makes the passion of Jesus the centre of time; indeed, in a way it makes it time itself. Bishop Berkeley-like, we can only have spiritual consciousness in the world that the resurrection has created. It is always resurrection day.

However, the world we live in does have a beginning and will have an end. Before the passion, there was one world; after there is another. That world has no beginning and no end, yet History unfolds and in that sense progresses. Cycles may exist within it, but things change and their pattern of growth or mutation can be identified and in many cases lessons can be learned from that trend. Like Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden, because they now have knowledge, we live in moments of History.

From the observation of that which we perceive to exist, other people end, so we will. We began. So they did.  If we can't trust our observations, we fall back onto a sort of Cartesian phenomenology; there was a time when we did not think, there could be a time when we do not, and both precepts depend upon memory, which is a word for internal history. So everything rests on history except either the things that we know instinctively, and the things that we can prove logically. This is where St Anselm fits in, with an elegant proof that thought itself must lead to God since we can envisage a supreme thing, and a supreme thing would exist, so the supreme thing must exist.

What if you reject your senses, your sense of self, and logic? Well, physics hints at either platonic truths in the underlying maths, or multiple worlds. If defined against either, we live in history.

Jesus does that, too. Christ does not. Christ exists at all points if the resurrection is true. The resurrection is outside history.

Within the passion, Jesus demonstrates numerous responses, from anger, bargaining, acceptance, conciliation and revolt. He changes up to that point. But when the Christ side of his nature becomes evident, everything changes to become the same--ἀνάστασις. Everything stands. Forever.

That's one of the central mysteries of life--the central mystery, if you will, of all life.

The metaphysics of it all are flawless, and going further probably passes over the requirement that we not try to put the ocean in a cup or to ‘second guess’ God. Still, it seems to have taken three hundred years for what happened to be defined. The passage of another seventeen hundred has elaborated things further in the deposit of faith, but we are still accommodating changes in interpretation and a turning world is still experiencing material progress.

So how do we live in change and in the light of an unchanging truth? I’ve not gone Arian but this seems to me to be one of the most fundamental questions of Western history, and it rings through most of our ideologies and conceptual schemes. We’re taught, for instance, that political ideologies are all rooted in views of human nature. Some people believe humans to be rational; others emphasise individualism; others look to how we live in tradition; and a further strain views us as collectively defined. The new-old combination of paganism and systems theory that makes up Greenery sees us as a part of the environment. This diversity of views of what we are is why we have numerous and irreconcilable isms, from liberalism, conservatism, and socialism.

We also elaborate these views and then confuse the mechanisms we develop a view of—like choice, or scientific falsifiability, or naturalist 0ntologies—with proof. By these means our ideas gain as great an apparent life as people in our minds and outlooks. We can never, however, be satisfied with any of them, for reasons I’ll go into in a separate post. For all our attempts to elaborate, these attempts at proof do not feed our need for faith, and nor do they explain our relationship to time. We know we that we change; we know that times change. Some of us associate this progress with moral growth. Many don’t. Many believe that we stay the same through life. Some don’t.

So we struggle. We look for objective points of reference that can’t change, or in their absence cognitive systems that process the changing world whilst staying the same. We all have some shadow of the resurrection event by which we define ourselves. Yet we believe in subjective experience of movement and development, a beginning and an end. Eastern mystics are often misunderstood in this regard. It isn’t that they want to lose themselves in inexplicable parts of themselves. Only the Western narcissist playing with Orientalism believe that. True mystics want to find the source of their demons, the confusion arising from contorted limitations within themselves, and explore their souls in order to change those limitations with newer and presumably truer parameters. They do set lines and they do come back. Nirvana is a great idea but it noticeably comes after life.

I think that this struggle between the wish to acknowledge things or tools that do not change and the knowledge that most things do is Western. I think that for several reasons. It seems a logical outgrowth of what one could call omnipotent monotheism, which is a Judaeo-Christian thing. I can also point to fractal evidence throughout Western, or at a pinch, Christian, culture. Thirdly, I don’t really know enough about the Eastern or Southern peoples of the Earth to make statements about the cultures prevailing amongst such folk.

On this Easter Sunday, I find myself wondering if it’s this tension, this outlook, which motivates those who are clinging to the dollar-based world, to fundamentalist views of the Constitution of the United States, or to a comforting hard-line return to basics when both Christendom and the Dar-al-Islam seem in any reasonable perspective to be in a state of narrative collapse. See, it solves a puzzle for me which is a perennial one. The puzzle is why people won’t look through their numerous idolatries and consensus wisdoms and actually grasp what seems obvious in the political and economic world, and do something about it.

The explanation that we are all distracted just won’t cut it. Nor, though, do I want the subjective and reliably false thrill of thinking that I get something that other people don’t about ongoing civilizational decline. I’m not alone and I have no special insight. Why, though, is my predictable outlook nevertheless unusual? Why won’t people see where we are and where we are obviously headed? Is it that the tension between the West’s four vectors—what always was, what has been and will be, ‘I’ and ‘We’—just confuses us and overwhelms our ears? Or is it that, like St Peter in the water, the only one who can rescue us, striding across the waves, is the one we will inevitably deny; Alpha and Omega, East and West—Jesus and Christ?